Friday, January 20, 2006

Conference Championship Games

Wow, did I get smacked around last week going 1-3. I need to stop trusting my gut when it comes to a game that I feel awful about. When I feel bad I need to go in the opposite direction. I got my backside handed to me with the picks of Da Bears and the Pats in the divisional round. Man I am sitting at .500 right now and have only 3 games to go. I've got year end awards to hand out but after the Super Bowl. I hate handing out awards before the whole season is over. I always think that is dumb, and baseball is the worst. This week has some intriguing match ups. Perennial winners meet up in the anti-CBS dream match up, Steelers/Broncos. The two NFC favorites not from Philadelphia match up in the great northwest, Panthers/Seahawks.

Steelers (+3) over BRONCOS

While the line has moved 2 points during the week, and the Steelers are on game 18 and on the road, I have to go with their streak. They've walked into two tough environments and manhandled those defenses, on the ground and through the air. The Broncos have the homefield advantage but I watched them let a Pats team that had no right to win that game hang in there until the final minute. If Adam Vinatieri makes that FG attempt, That Pats would have been one score down, right where they like to be. That whole 2 minute drill could have been different. Everyone kept waiting for them to pull it together this season and it took them until the final 4 weeks of the regular season to do so. I also feel that the Steelers are very flexible, and can tailor an offensive game to exploit the opposing team. I think that Big Ben is on the kind of roll that you can't wager against. I just hope Cowher doesn't get conservative and give away the game like he tried to last week.

SEAHAWKS (-4) over Panthers This is the one I hate to pick. The Panthersare riding a huge wave of optimism. Steve Smith is playing at a Jerry Rice level, and the defense has stepped it up. Winning three on the road is a tough challenge, and I am already picking one team to do it. I don't think I can do it twice. It's just the way the Seahawks won last weekend; it was a Pats of 2003 win. Here's something to consider, the Seahawks are 9-0 at home this year. They win at home with their formula of a great rushing attack that opens the passing game. Play action works on the Panthers. Running the ball works on the Panthers. The Bears scored 21 on the Panthers with a 'rookie' QB.

Here's an analogy that might help. Every year in the NCAA March Madness tourney, a team has a hiccup game. A hiccup game is when a high seed plays terrible. The goal of all high seeds is to survive the hiccup game and get back on track for the next game. Teams most likely to have hiccup games are teams that rely on 3 point shooting. One cold night and your done. I think the Seahawks had their hiccup game last week offensively, and it will be back to business come Sunday. Arrgghhh, I'm going with the home field advantage. I hate this pick, I hate it.


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